Gatchalian: Financial incentives not new taxes for online entrepreneurs

Published June 22, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Hannah Torregoza

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday prodded the government to assist online entrepreneurs by granting them financial incentives instead of making them pay new taxes.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Gatchalian said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) ought to extend fresh capital and other financial assistance to budding online entrepreneurs to help them recover from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic instead of confronting them with a tax obligation.

The senator said online sellers ought to be covered by the micro-financing program of the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.), a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) attached to the DTI.

SB Corp., under the guidance of the DTI, has set up a P1-billion Enterprise Rehabilitation Financing facility under the Pondo sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso (COVID-19 P3-ERF) to support micro and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

According to Gatchalian, SB Corp.’s micro-financing program offers a minimal interest rate of not more than 2.5 percent per month with no collateral requirement.

Micro enterprises with asset size of not more than P3 million may borrow P10,000 up to P200,000, while small enterprises with asset size of not more than P10-million may borrow a higher loan amount but will not exceed P500,000.

“Ang DTI ay dapat magbigay pa nga ng puhunan sa mga Pilipino na nawalan ng trabaho at gustong makaahon sa kahirapan sa pamamagitan ng pagnenegosyo sa online (DTI should be giving capital to Filipinos who lost their jobs and want to overcome poverty by entering into online business),” Gatchalian said.

“Sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, mas magandang nasa tahanan lang sila at nag-nenegosyo. Nabibigyan pa nila ng trabaho ang mga (During this time of a pandemic, it’s best that they do their business at home. They also provide jobs to our) delivery service riders,” the vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs said.

“Hindi lang basta ayuda ang hinihingi ng mga negosyanteng ito. Ang hinihingi nila ay malaya silang bigyan ng oportunidad na makapag-negosyo para may kita sila, (These entrepreneurs are not just after cash aid. What they are asking for is they be given an opportunity to trade so they can earn their keep),” he said.

Gatchalian had earlier criticized the Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) pronouncement of taxing online sellers, emphasizing that such move is ill-timed and insensitive.

He added that registering businesses with the BIR is futile since its system requires an applicant’s physical presence when people are supposed to be restricted to go out of their homes.

“Nakita ko na hindi rin handa ang ating pamahalaan na buwisan ang ating mga maliliit na negosyante dahil yung ultimong pagre-rehistro ay hindi pa sila handa (I can also see our government is not prepared to tax small businesses because they are not also prepared with the registration process),” he said.

“Kaya huwag na nating ipilit sa ganitong panahon ng pandemya, dahil hindi lang marami ang naghihirap kundi marami rin ang natatakot na lumabas ng kanilang bahay, (That’s why I call on them not to insist this during this pandemic because aside from the fact there are many experiencing difficulties, many people are also afraid to leave their houses),” Gatchalian said.